Locusts!? I Don’t Even Like Spinach!

John the Baptist must have been a fascinating character. We know so little about him other than his lineage, where he lived, what he wore and ate (locusts raw and not on pizza), and what he did for a living. While it seems like a lot, knowing this information does not reveal all that much about a person (well, maybe the locust part does). However, in John’s case, his rather mysterious personage tells us all we need to know. He was an instrument, a vehicle, a preparer for something (someone) greater. No one pays much attention to the construction crew that paves the road upon which the presidential limo travels. No one oogles over the hammer in the hand of the carpenter who is building a 10,000 sq. ft. summer home for the queen. No one praises the knife with which the woodcarver whittles away a block of basswood to reveal a finely-detailed miniature. The crew, the hammer, the knife are but instruments that prepare the way for someone or something greater. John’s humility was not in his aestheticism, nor in beating himself up over the fact that he was not worthy to tie Jesus’ shoes. His humility consisted in the fact that he gloried in his role as a preparer; he lost himself in the overwhelming greatness of the One who was coming; he forgot himself in the overwhelming privilege of serving his Lord. His life was effective not because he had a following or established a ministry that had world-wide impact, but because he pointed to someone beyond himself. He never sought a hearing, people sought him out. He never went into Jerusalem to preach, but people came into the wilderness to hear him. William Barclay commenting on Mark 1:5-8 said, “[John’s] obvious self-forgottenness, his patent yieldedness, his complete self-effacement, his utter lostness in his message compelled people to listen.” And so, fellow-instruments, is our humility found in how God has used us with which to do great things or do we humble ourselves by pointing beyond ourselves to the great things God has done? There is a difference. Are you a hammer all bright and shiny in the display case of the hardware store that enjoys being looked at or are you an instrument in the Redeemer’s hand, and in that you are content?

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